best bait for fishing in a lake

You may have the top fishing rod and reel in the world, but if your bait game is all wrong, don’t expect to have successful fishing trips. This applies to freshwater and lake fishing in particular – the rules here aren’t the same as in saltwater fishing.

Picking freshwater bait isn’t that difficult in reality, but there are some things to keep in mind. If you’re looking to fish in a local lake for the first time, then read on to find our roundup of the fishing in a lake along with some recommendations on how and when to use each bait.

Top 10 Freshwater Baits
to Fish on Small Lakes for Bass

  • Cut Fishing Bait

  • Worms

  • Insects

  • Shrimp

  • Dough Balls

  • Leeches

  • Clams & Mussels

  • Grubs & Mealworms

  • Minnows

  • Crayfish

How We Decided?




Here Are our Top 10 Freshwater Best Fishing Bait Reviews for 2020:

1. Cut Fishing Bait

Cut fishing bait

Cut fishing bait can be highly effective at attracting fish that react to scent since cut fishing bait emits more scent than whole. Among fish species that are attracted by this bait type are sea trout, catfish, carp, bluefish, sailfish, and some others.

To make cut fishing bait, you can use any fish, even fish that you have just caught. It’s generally recommended to scale the fish without removing the skin for good results.



Worms are most likely the most popular type of fishing bait around the world, as well as arguably the best live freshwater bait for fishing.

To get started, consider night crawlers and red worms. These are very widely accessible – you may be able to find plenty in the soil of your own backyard! Aside from that, these worms seem to work well with many types of fish.

As a rule of thumb, 1-2 dozen worms should suffice for a single fishing trip. When hooking the worm, make sure to use just a piece of the worm – to consume a small piece of the worm, the fish will have to bite down on the hook. If the worm is too large, the fish may just nibble on the worm without getting caught.

3. Insects

Insects Bait

Insects are also very popular as fishing bait, though probably not as popular for worms. They still are strong contenders for the title of the best lure for bass fishing.

Among insects that can be used as bait are all kinds of ants, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. You may find these from bait stores or catch them on your own.

Insects seem to work well with many fish species. However, fish usually have specific preferences when it comes to insects. For example, smallmouth’s and large trout fish prefer immature caddis, mayflies, stoneflies, and hellgrammites. Brown trout tend to be easily attracted with ants on the fly.

4. Shrimp

Shrimp Bait

Freshwater shrimps are a natural part of the diet of trout, catfish, bullheads, bass, and pan fish. If these are the fish that you are planning to catch, then shrimps might be that best choice for your desired fish.

When thinking about shrimps, it’s crucial to distinguish between freshwater and saltwater shrimps. For freshwater fishing, you may either use live freshwater or dead saltwater shrimps.

For lake fishing, you’ll probably have more success with live freshwater shrimp. This bait should allow you to catch bass, crappie, trout, bluegills, bullheads, and walleye. As for dead saltwater shrimp, it works with catfish, common carp, bluegills, and bullheads.

With live freshwater shrimps, the best strategy would probably be to use shrimps as bait in the same water you’ve caught them from. If the target fish doesn’t really see shrimps in their water body all that often, you may have trouble attracting them to the bait.

Aside from that, live shrimp is very effective if positioned out in the open. Shrimps don’t hang out in unprotected areas – instead, they spend most of their time in and around shoreline vegetation. Out in the open, the shrimp will struggle to get into cover. This can quickly attract the target fish to your bait.

5. Dough Balls

Dough balls

For many people, dough balls will be the fancy choice for fishing in a shore. Dough balls work with many fish and are readily available in bait stores. Besides, you can very easily make dough balls yourself.

To use this, take some dough from the can and mold it around the fishing hook and the barb. You may alternatively use dough balls on a treble hook with a bait holder accessory.

Homemade dough ballsIf you are looking to make your own dough balls, here’s one recipe that you may try out:

  1. In a bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of yellow cornmeal.
  2. Fill a 1-quart container with water. Pour water into the prepared mixture until it becomes a heavy dough. You don’t need to use the entire quart of water – only use as much as necessary to make a heavy dough.
  3. Roll the dough into balls sized from 1/2 of an inch to 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Mix the remaining water with a cup of molasses. Pour the mixture into a pan.
  5. Optionally, add anice, garlic, licorice, or strawberry gelatin to the mixture for flavor.
  6. Place the pan on a stove, fire the stove up, and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Once the mixture starts boiling, throw in some dough balls. Don’t overcrowd the dough balls since they may stick to each other.
  8. Let the dough balls cook for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Take the dough balls out. Cool before using them as bait.

6. Leeches


Leeches are popular with larger game fish such as walleye and northern pike. Aside from that, they can be a decent alternative to worms with panfish.

Once you buy leeches, you’ll notice that they have 2 suckers – one in the tail and the other in the head. You should hook the leech through one of the suckers, though the tail sucker is generally preferred since it’s larger. The tail sucker will also allow you to use larger hooks.

When using leeches as live fishing bait, you should allow them to adjust to the temperature of the fishing spot so that they can swim well. The swimming motion of leeches is attractive to fish, and you should make use of that.

7. Clams & Mussels

Clams & mussels

If the reservoir where you will be catching fish houses clams or mussels, then you may give them a shot as bait as well. To keep clams and mussels fresh, you may catch them directly from the water where you are intending the fish.

Clams and mussels have shells, so you’ll have to cut them out. Once the bait is out, you should place it under the sun to allow it to harden – this will make hooking easier. To secure the bait on the hook, tie it down with a thread, but not too tight.

8. Grubs & Mealworms

Grubs & mealworms

Grubs and mealworms work very well with panfish, trout, and sunfish.

The nice thing about grubs and mealworms is that they can be very easily used in singles or multiples, depending on the size of the fish you are looking to catch.

Generally, grubs and mealworms that are larger than 1/3 of an inch long are cut in half. To hook the bait, pass the hook through the center of its body. The bait must touch the hook’s bend at the back, and the hook barb should be imbedded to ensure that the bait is secure on the hook.

Depending on the size of your hook, you may fit 3-4 grubs/mealworms on it.

Grubs and mealworms are widely available in bait and tackle shops. You may also gather them from deformed leaves of trees or plants or from the soil.

9. Minnows

Minnows Bait

Minnows are basically baby fish. They are commonly used to catch larger predatory fish.

This type of bait is pretty challenging to use because there are a lot of factors to consider with it.

Minnows are usually cast to areas where the fish you are after is hanging out. The location of fish caught with minnows is typically near the bottom of the water body. The challenge here is that you’ll need to be aware of the structure of the bottom where you’ll be fishing – this is to ensure that you place the minnow where the desired fish is navigating.

For still fishing, minnows are usually hooked through their back right above the dorsal fin. Be sure not to damage the spine of the minnow – this might incapacitate it and significantly reduce the chances of a successful catch.

For cast & retrieve, trolling, and drifting, minnows are generally hooked through the tails or both lips.

To improve the minnow presentation, you could try to hook it upside down on a lighter jig. The minnow will struggle to turn upright and, unable to do so, may attract a lot of attention.

Make sure to store minnows in water at all times. Use the same water from which the minnows were caught or bought.

10. Crayfish


Crayfish can be used as bait either whole or alive or as fragments.

For example, smallmouth bass is usually caught with live crayfish hooked through the tail. Panfish, in contrast, are typically caught with the meat from the tail or the large pincers. Catfish, carp, and bullheads are caught with dead crayfish.

A nice thing about crayfish is that you can use their meat to simulate other types of bait. For example, you can cut the belly area into long and thin strips to simulate eels or small fish.

You can fairly easily catch crayfish yourself with a fine mesh net or window screen, but to save time, you may also buy it from bait stores. If you are planning to keep the crayfish alive, store them in damp moss, moist rags, or a bait bucket.

11. Eels

Eels bait

Eels are tough and can be used in a variety of fishing conditions. Due to this, they make for the good bait for fishing in a shore for many situations. Particularly, they work great in trolling or bottom fishing.

The best way to hook an eel is to run the hook through the bottom jaw and out of an eye. Such hooking makes the head of the heel point downwards. Simulating an escaping eel, this hooking method can provoke a strong reaction in predatory fish.

It’s generally recommended to place eels in the water immediately after hooking. Out of the water, the eel will squirm and may tangle your fishing line. To avoid this and to allow the eel to swim freely, place the bait into water immediately.

12. Fish Roe


During the spawning periods, fish often ignore any regular fishing baits. Here’s when fish roe may become the good choice for bass fishing. It can be very effective for freshwater fish, especially for salmon, trout, and Steelhead trout.

To use fish roe as bait, you may place a cluster of eggs into cheesecloth and then attach the sack to your hook. You may also use cured skein, which is a cluster of cured eggs. If you are looking to fish closer to the bottom, attach a small sinker to the hook to get it deeper.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What do you need to start fishing in a lake?  Here’s what you should get for start fishing:

  • A fishing license for the state you’ll be fishing in.
  • Live bait or fishing lures.
  • A fishing rod and reel.
  • 4-12-pound mono fishing line.
  • Size 6-10 fishing hooks.
  • Plastic/cork bobber.
  • Fishing weights.

2. Is bread a good bait for freshwater fish?

Bread can work very well with catfish, suckers, and carp. It may be uninteresting to some fish family, but bread is at least worth a try. For added effect, you may add scents to the bread to make it more attractive. Plain bread can work well as well.

3. How do you fish from the shore of a lake?

Follow these 3 tips for good results:

  • Find a spot far from busy areas like roads –fish don’t like to hang out near noisy areas.
  • Focus on shoreline structures like docks, fallen trees, vegetation, or rock piles – these are probably used by a lot of fish as cover.
  • Cast the line parallel to the shore – most fish will be hanging out closer to the shoreline.

4. What is the best bait for fishing?

Good natural freshwater fishing baits are worms, Insects, leeches, minnows, crayfish, crickets and grasshoppers, Clams & Mussels.  Freshwater bottom-feeders like catfish and carp are also curious about cut fishing baits (cut piece of a fish as bait) and hand made baits called dough balls.

Final Words

There isn’t a single bait for fishing in a lake – you’ll have to experiment to find out which option works best for your situation.

In addition you may have to follow some fishing tips and tricks to make make sure your fishing goes in the right way.

At initial stages, don’t over think it – just gather whatever bait you have easy access to and go fishing. Then, go from there. If your selection works, then great! Otherwise, try to make some changes in your bait selection to hopefully improve your results.


Always check local fishing regulations to form sure the freshwater fishing bait you select is legal for the lake you’re fishing. Many lakes don’t allow the utilization of fish minnows as freshwater bait because fish can take over a lake and starve-out the sport fish.

The Views of Other Peoples About How To Start Fishing Any Lake

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